Electronics Protection - November/December 2012 - (Page 6)

Feature Collaborative Design of Custom Enclosures - An Overview of the Process Steven Leidig, Manager of Enclosure Engineering Crenlo Today’s network equipment is no longer limited to phone closets. As solid-state technology becomes increasingly demanding and is being put into new, and often more harsh settings, integrators and manufacturers of electronics are faced with protection considerations, many of which cannot be adequately met by standard, off-the-shelf enclosure products. As such, today’s enclosure market is estimated to be made up of more than 30 percent custom products. Still, many manufacturers view the process of commissioning a custom enclosure as a daunting, expensive and time-consuming effort. With a better understanding of the process, however, this misconception can be rectified. This article will outline the collaborative design process between enclosure manufacturer and electronics manufacturer in the development of a custom enclosure for an end product. Specifically, this article will outline three stages of custom enclosure development: design, prototyping and manufacturing. What, if any, industry regulations must be met? In addition to posing equipment protection concerns, new environments bring new regulatory requirements. As such, enclosure manufacturers often must act as regulatory compliance consultants. These regulations are often based on installation environment. For instance, the International Building Code sets forth standards for how enclosures must be installed in areas with seismic concern. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) sets ratings for protection against environmental factors such as water and dust. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set forth guidelines for shielding of radio frequency interference, and the military has a wide array of standards that apply to specific installation scenarios, such as protection against shock and vibration on naval ships. What is the allowable operating temperature range? Based on estimated ambient temperature range of the operating environment and waste heat generated from the equipment, the enclosure manufacturer can determine the appropriate size fan and conduct a pipeflow analysis to ensure equipment stays within the allowable operating temperature range. How will the equipment be serviced? The electronics manufacturer should be cognizant of the type of work that will go into regular maintenance of the equipment and ensure the enclosure is designed so that replaceable parts such as filters and fuses are easily accessible. The enclosure manufacturer can then conduct an ergonomic analysis and ensure access panels are located in appropriate places. Additionally, safety considerations should be made such as grounding and the use of door locks to prevent open panels from swinging in the wind. If access control is a concern, exterior door locks can be installed as well. What are the target costs and quantities? Lastly, it’s important to know the electronics manufacturer’s target costs, quantities and frequencies of shipments in order to make final design and component sourcing decisions. Often, the enclosure manufacturer will make changes to the initial design in order to reduce costs without changing the fit, form or function of the enclosure. After all the necessary questions are answered, the enclosure manufacturer builds a 3D model, of which finite element analysis is conducted to ensure structural integrity of the design. Once the design is approved by both parties, the process moves on to the prototyping phase. Phase 1: Design An electronics manufacturer in need of a custom enclosure to supplement their end product can engage the enclosure manufacturer in one of three ways, to design the enclosure from scratch, to work side-by-side in a joint development or to integrate an already designed enclosure into their manufacturing system. In this article, we will focus on a side-by-side development. The collaborative design process begins with a voice of customer analysis, consisting of a number of questions that will help kick off the design phase. What size will be a sufficient solution for installation and long-term operation? Size often seems a relatively easy decision based on number of rack units needed or dimensions of the equipment being installed; however, it’s important to ensure the enclosure size leaves room for future expansion, if that’s a possibility. Size may also be affected by installation constraints. For instance, building an enclosure for installation on a submarine would require that it be configured modularly, so as to be able to pass through the hatch and be fully assembled once inside. No matter what the solution, the enclosure manufacturer begins the size discussion by requesting any available prints of the equipment to be installed. What is the installation environment? The reliability of electronics is highly dependent upon their level of protection from potentially harmful environmental factors such as dust, water, corrosive agents, ice, electromagnetic interference (EMI), shock/vibration, seismic activity and more. What might be an excellent enclosure for a phone closet certainly wouldn’t be sufficient for a seaside, outdoor installation. Operating environment influences a number of design decisions, such as gasketing, materials, finishes, vents, filters and more. What is the total weight of the equipment being loaded into the enclosure? Selection of nearly every enclosure component is dependent upon weight load capacity, including everything from casters, levelers, shelves and drawers, to sliders, frames, tie-down hardware, anti-tip bases and a slew of other components. Thus, weight is an essential piece of information to have in the beginning of the design process. Phase 2: Prototyping The prototyping process can take two paths, one built using soft tooling/fixturing and the other using full tooling/fixturing. The end result of both paths is a true representative sample, or first article, of what will be the mass-produced product. Tooling and fixturing come into play in two parts of the production process, pressing and welding. Enclosures often have a number of components (e.g., doors, perforated side panels, etc.) that require a slew of bends, holes and other features. These features are created by large press brakes. Without custom-made tooling for each component, an operator has to manually make each bend and hole in that component. However, tooling can be designed to create multiple bends or holes in one process, which can save the customer significantly on labor costs. In the weld area, investment in fixturing means there is a struc- 6 November/December 2012 www.ElectronicsProtectionMagazine.com http://www.ElectronicsProtectionMagazine.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Electronics Protection - November/December 2012

Electronics Protection - November/December 2012
Buckeye Shapeform Provides Nuclear Lab New Case Options
Collaborative Design of Custom Enclosures - An Overview of the Process
Lowering Data Center Energy Bills: DCIM to the Rescue
What the New NFPA Workplace Electrical Safety Provisions Mean for Data Center Managers
Mitigating Risks Through Power Distribution Design
Don’t Call it a Box! Instrument Cases Can Combine Strength and Eye Appeal
L-com Adds New Sizes to Its Non-Powered Weatherproof Industrial Enclosures Line
Nusil Presents Thermally Conductive Electronic Packaging Material
Lapp’s Cable Glands Deliver EMI Protection and Simple Installation
New Surge Suppression Solution to Shield Electronics from Surge Energy Let-Through
Chatsworth Products Increases Surface Area on Cable Pathways by 400 Percent
Industry News
Calendar of Events

Electronics Protection - November/December 2012